On New Year Resolutions

it’s that time of the year. we assemble our goals, hopes, aspirations, fantasies into a list. a list we hope to abide by in order to become the person we think we should be. or maybe to become the person we think others think we should be. either way like all firsts (the first day of school, the first day of work), the first day of the year is one filled with hope. Even in the dead of winter, the sun seems to shine brighter on the first day than on any other day. as if the sun too has bought into this demarcation of time which is otherwise meaningless to all non-humans.

the first day is a new page in a new book. one we can fill any way we want. a new start. for we are always looking for new starts. some way to quickly erase our pasts, absolve ourselves of our mistakes, a chance to make things right, to pretend as if all the things we dislike, all the things we did wrong never happened. we are eager to let go of our old selves to become a new person in the new year. as if our old self is nothing but a disappointment. one to be shunned, left behind, hidden, buried. And so, we eagerly make lists of things to do, things to change, things not to do.

as days pile on, the newness is rubbed off. our old self creeps up, and slowly the resolutions are forgotten.

i say “we” as if i know how we all feel, as if i can confidently speak for all of us. as if the whole exercise of making resolutions is pointless and all resolutions are doomed to fail for everyone. i can only talk about myself really. this is how it is for me. but by saying we, i can feel less alone, less like a failure for not sticking to my resolutions.

year after year, my resolutions have more or less remained the same.

1. to lose weight

to work out, to eat healthier, to lose those extra pounds (or kilograms), to get rid of the flab so that we can wear clothes that are hiding at the back of the closet. Or are still on display at the store, the ones we haven’t yet bought. we all want to look like the women in glossy magazines. shiny, perfect, toned, not an ounce of fat.

but then we look at the mirror, disappointed at the asymmetry, the lopsided smile, hips rounder on one side, the nose too big, too long. the mirror is always accentuating our flaws. or maybe the mirror is not at fault. it is our mind, focusing on all the things wrong with our bodies.

day after day we look at the mirror with dissatisfaction. and yet pictures from the previous years tell a different story. our bodies don’t seem as imperfect. or maybe the memories associated with them overshadow the flaws. the nostalgia makes us seem thinner, younger, happier.

pregnancy has changed how I feel about our bodies. about my body. I feel more comfortable, more accepting of the image I see in the mirror. I am not in a hurry to change it, alter it, fix it. I have come to accept that I may never look like what I think I should look like. I want to focus on remaining healthy more than looking perfect. i want to bring out the clothes from all corners of my closet, wear them even though they are not as flattering. slowly change images of myself in my own eyes, embrace reality, with all its imperfections.

2. to read more

so much to read, so little time. my goodreads want-to-read list keeps growing like the weeds in my yard. I fail miserably at taming it, at reading from that list. like everything else in my life, I am very inconsistent with my reading habit. I go through phases of reading like there is nothing else to do followed by a lull where I’d rather not think of a book. but i’ve realized that to keep the reading going I need to read what I enjoy and drop something if it is not keeping me engaged. books that win awards, top charts, may not always be the books I enjoy. lists claiming that certain books must be read in one’s lifetime may not be true for everyone. we get to make our own lists. we need to spend more time in aisles of bookstores and libraries, head slightly tilted discovering books serendipitously.

3. write more

the thoughts come when recording them is the hardest. during a shower, or when i’m feeding my baby. when there is no access to pen and paper. so i try to hold on, memorizing words and phrases like i did with multiplication tables. and when i finally sit at my desk, to write it down, hours, sometimes days later, i am left with only remnants of those thoughts that were then flowing like a waterfall just after the rains. all i am hanging on to are the ruins after a war. broken words, sentences that were beautiful in my brain but now sound damaged on paper. and in this way i lose my words.

write every day they say. but to sit at the desk staring at a blank paper is like meditation. you know the benefits, you know you should be doing it. but it feels like a waste of time for the first ten, maybe fifteen minutes. to go beyond that crucial time is a hurdle that is so hard to cross. but once crossed, it is hard to stop. it gets easier to write, to keep writing until eyes hurt and the brain is foggy but the pages have been filled and you feel light, satisfied.

My resolutions for 2020 remain the same. although this year i’m trying to change the way i approach them. focus on fitness and health instead of weight, focus on enjoying books instead of ticking names of a list, focus on daily habits instead of word counts and blog posts. it all boils down to this much – numbers don’t matter – how much you weigh, how many books you read or how many words you write. it is about enjoying the habits and hobbies while we try to better versions of ourselves.

through acceptance, things are ok the way they are if that is what makes us happy.

through change, making investments for the future. not aggressively just at the start of the year. but little by little, in a way that remains constant, a part of ourselves always.

through forgiveness, and being nice. to ourselves and to each other.

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